Kenneth Oliver was freed Monday June 3, after serving 23 years of a life sentence for a joyriding case. 8 years of which he spent in solitary confinement for possessing a book written by Black Guerilla Family co-founder George Jackson!
His attorneys say, “it’s unconscionable that he was set to die in prison for nonviolent crimes.”
Oliver, now 52, was given the life sentence at 29 under California’s strict “three strikes” sentencing law for repeat felons.
Although the law was modified in 2012 to allow life sentences only when the third strike is for a serious or violent felony, Oliver was not eligible for a new sentence because he was found with a book called “Blood In My Eye.”
The state has now expunged Oliver’s gang-affiliation record and paid him a $125,000 settlement for his time in solitary.
“It’s almost impossible to believe that what happened to Ken happened here in California. You know, people think of this as an enlightened state and both the sentence and the time in (solitary confinement) don’t square with that,” said Ward Johnson, lead counsel on the case.
So why was he REALLY arrested in the first place???
Oliver was arrested while a passenger in a stolen vehicle and pleaded guilty. A stolen handgun was later found in his hotel room, according to prosecutors.
Los Angeles County prosecutor Nicol Walgren said she was impressed by Oliver’s rehabilitation in prison and preparation for a successful life outside. She called him, “the kind of prisoner that voters envisioned when they eased the three strikes law… “
“Ken’s sentence of 50 (years)-to-life was much longer than (for) rapists and murderers,” said Michael Romano, director and founder of the Three Strikes and Justice Advocacy Projects at Stanford Law School. “There should be some proportionality.”
“I really haven’t wrapped my head around it fully,” Oliver said 24 hours after his release and after he and his father, a university dean in Georgia, celebrated with dinner. “I do feel like time has passed me by but I’m trying not to be negative about it…”
About the Book…
The author of “Blood In My Eye” died just days after writing the book! George Jackson, on August 21, 1971 died at the hands of San Quentin prison guards during an alleged escape attempt.
At 18 years old, George Jackson was convicted of stealing seventy dollars from a gas station and was sentenced to life in prison.
He spent the next eleven years in the California prison system, seven in solitary confinement.
While in prison he read widely and transformed himself into an activist and political theoretician who defined himself as a revolutionary.
Get The Book Here